The ad campaign, which ran on TV, online and in print almost a year ago, pushed its seven-day menu which claimed to provide a family of four with three nutritionally balanced meals a day.
A handful of consumers complained that the promotion was misleading because the menu did not provide sufficient calories to meet the needs of a family of four, and that additional food would have to be purchased.
The menu plan was not suitable for children under four but the ad campaign showed children in their age group, according to complainants.
Complaints were also lodged that the menu also included a number of “store cupboard” items that would also have to be purchased in addition to the £50.
Sainsbury’s said that its meal plan, had been “deliberately engineered” not to provide all of an adult’s calorie requirements to allow for additional snacking or drinks outside of the three meals.
The supermarket added that the meal plan was devised with the British Nutrition Foundation in line with the Department of Health’s nutritional guidelines and provided five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and 85% of the guideline daily vitamins and minerals.
The watchdog ruled that Sainsbury’s had “over claimed” that its menu planner could provide all of a family’s food needs for a week and not making it clear that additional snacks fell outside of the £50 budget, despite the Department of Health agreeing that Sainsbury’s decision to structure the meal plans to provide 75% of calorie requirements was “reasonable”.
The ads have been banned in their current form and the ASA advised Sainsbury’s that future menu planner campaigns should explain how the calorific content had been calculated.